- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Call it “The Battle Over a Tree Hollow."
Feral bees have occupied—and abandoned—a sycamore tree cavity in a Vacaville neighborhood for at least two decades. They occupy it in the spring, summer and fall, and then the colony either absconds or dies back in the winter.
When this winter proved exceptionally cold and rainy, a clever squirrel moved in.
A place to stay warm. A perfect sleepy hollow.
Then in early April, scout bees from a spring swarm begin circling the tree. Wait! There's an intruder inside.
Squirrel: "Occupied! No vacancy!"
Bees: "Out, it's ours!”
Squirrel: “Finders, keepers! I was here first!”
Bees: “But it's ours! This is our bee tree!”
Cars speed by. Residents trudge by with leashed dogs. Birds chirp. A hound bays uproariously. The sleepy squirrel pokes his head out occasionally as if to ask “What's all the ruckus about? Can't a squirrel get some sleep?”
More bees buzz around his head.
“Occupied!” Mr. Squirrel shouts again. “No vacancy!”
The score: Squirrel: 1. Bees: 0.
Then one mid-April day, the tenant vanishes.
The bees quickly move in. Call it a "hollow victory" for the bees.
The score: Bees: 1. Squirrel, O.
Now a queen bee is busily laying eggs. The workers are performing their age-related duties: nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, foragers, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, undertakers, and guards.
Who was it who said "Everything works if you let it?" The American rock band, Cheap Trick.